Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No. 13: The Spencer House, 2013, Sarasota | 1601 Prospect St.; Guy Peterson, FAIA, Architect

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No. 13: The Spencer House, 2013, Sarasota | 1601 Prospect St.; Guy Peterson, FAIA, Architect

Article excerpt

FLORIDA BUILDINGS I LOVE / HAROLD BUBIL

For architects, there is a fate worse than having their work rejected by clients or criticized by the public.

It is having their work ignored.

"I would rather do a house that people don't like than one they don't notice," architect Guy Peterson said following the completion of the bold, dramatic and controversial Spencer House in 2013.

Peterson had nothing to worry about. The Spencer House generated as much public reaction, perhaps more, as Paul Rudolph's groundbreaking Umbrella House (Florida Buildings I Love, No. 7) did in 1953. The Herald-Tribune ran an article about the house on its front page.

"I think architecture should create some emotion," Peterson said.

The Spencer House, a study in geometric perspective, is especially notable because of its location. Many daring modern houses are hidden from wide public view on the barrier islands or behind gates, or both. But this house is on busy South Orange Avenue, not far from downtown, and in full view of thousands of cars a day.

It's also in an older neighborhood with many traditional homes. But homeowners Gary and Beth Spencer were not afraid to let Peterson, an American Institute of Architects-Florida Gold Medal winner, make what is perhaps the statement of his career.

"When you live in Sarasota, modern makes sense," Gary Spencer said in 2013. "It is a landmark architectural style. But we weren't going for a museum. We were going for a home."

Being built in the age of social media, the house received a mostly positive response from Herald-Tribune readers, although a good number thought it was shocking or out of place.

The house's most noticeable feature is the grid of 148 square perforations on the south-facing exterior walls. On the upper levels, they are filled in with glass. "The most challenging part was the glass block, the holes going all the way up. …

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